While NASA was busy celebrating the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Russia and Japan were busy making a huge announcement that has the possibility to set off another space race. They announced that they want to start on the journey to building a permanent base on the moon.
“We’re not talking about repeating what mankind achieved 40 years ago. We’re talking about establishing permanent bases,” said Vladimir Popovkin, the head of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. Japan’s space exploration goals for the near future are similar to those of Russia. “We are looking at the moon as our next target for human exploraiton,” said Yuichi Yamaura, an associate executive director at JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency.
Meanwhile, in the United States, NASA has a Global Exploration Roadmap, which details its plans for the next 25 years of space exploration. It features 2 main paths, One is establishing a moon base by 2020, the other is a trip to an asteroid. Obama likes the asteroid trip, but most conservatives seem to like the moon base idea.
Being the only country to ever put people on the moon is a distinction that the United States had had since 1969. We have a lot of problems to fix in the United States, but keeping a national identity like dominating space technology is something we need to refocus our attention to.
photo courtesy of NASA